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Expand chart
Data: Sentieo; Chart: Harry Stevens/Axios

S&P 500 executives are talking about a recession much more frequently than they were last year.

By the numbers: There were 115 mentions of "recession" or "macroeconomic conditions" last month — more than 3 times the 35 mentions during the same time frame in 2018, according to an analysis of earnings calls by research platform Sentieo.

What they're saying:

  • "Geopolitical and macroeconomic conditions have contributed to our customers having a more cautious outlook." — Stephen Milligan, Western Digital CEO
  • "We are undertaking and accelerating a number of initiatives to improve our results. It's not in our DNA to just stand around and wait for macroeconomic conditions to improve." — Tim Cook, Apple CEO
  • "If throughout the year, we see a change of those assumptions that there is in fact a recession and a bear market is coming, we’ll wait a bit, before we see evidence – total evidence of that, and we’ll adjust our expenses." — Henry Fernandez, MSCI CEO

Last year, mentions hit a high with 194 in November. Before that, the number of mentions hit 360 in February of 2016, after widespread concern about slowing growth in China.

  • Yes, but: Talk of a recession remains well below levels seen during and after the financial crisis, with executives mentioning the word "recession" 762 times in January 2009.

If history is a guide: S&P executives will ramp up talk about a recession when there's actually one underway — not beforehand.

Go deeper

By the numbers: Catholics, Biden and abortion

Expand chart
Reproduced from Pew Research Center; Chart: Axios Visuals

President Biden — the second Catholic U.S. president — will meet with Pope Francis at the Vatican on Friday, as some church leaders debate whether to deny Holy Communion to politicians who support abortion rights.

By the numbers: Overall, two in three U.S. Catholics believe Biden should be allowed to take Communion despite his stance on abortion, according to polling by Pew Research Center.

Texas House probes school library books dealing with race and sexuality

Photo: Brittany Murray/MediaNews Group/Long Beach Press-Telegram via Getty Images

Texas state Rep. Matt Krause, chair of the Texas House Committee on General Investigating, announced Wednesday that he's initiating a probe into schools' library books, according to a letter sent to the state's education agency and other superintendents.

Why it matters: The probe focuses on books that discuss race, sexuality or "make students feel discomfort, guilt, anguish or any other form of psychological distress because of their race or sex," Krause wrote in the letter.

6 hours ago - World

Iran agrees to resume Vienna nuclear talks in November

Ali Bagheri (R) with Enrique Mora in Tehran on Oct. 14. Photo: Iranian Foreign Ministry handout via Getty

Iran's new chief nuclear negotiator said following a meeting in Brussels on Wednesday that Iran would resume negotiations in Vienna before the end of November, with the exact date to be set next week.

Why it matters: The Vienna talks have been frozen since Iran's new hardline president, Ebrahim Raisi, was elected in June. This is the most direct commitment from Raisi's government to return to the negotiating table.